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Normandy D-Day Landings – Juno Beach Centre provides a thought provoking but family friendly experience!

Having recently visited Ypres to gain a better understanding of the sacrifices made by those in the trenches in WW1 (on both sides)… We jumped at the chance to visit the Canadian WW2 centre near Caen… For those who haven’t been, it’s definitely worth adding Juno Beach Centre to your next French holidays.

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For those who may not have know before (like us!). Juno Beach commemorates the D-Day Landings on the Normandy beaches in June 1944…. and this particular beach saw some of the most brutal landings of that fateful day in 1944…. and it’s always worth remembering that this was an Allied force full of different nationalities but this is very much remembering those lost from the Canadian forces… and what a sacrifice their brave men laid down on these beaches.

 

The Juno Beach Centre opened in 2003 and is relatively new to the stretch of museums that commemorate this heroic achievement by the Allied Forces, yet this one is particularly known for its brilliant temporary exhibitionGrandma, What was it like during the War’…

This was even better for us, as we travelled to visit the Centre with the girl’s grandparents!! So they all trooped off (iPhone in hand to use the brilliantly interactive app) to enjoy the exhibition, one of it’s kind as it is designed primarily at the girl’s ages (7-12 year olds)

 

As teachers, we know just how hard and abstract the concept of war is to learn about.. but we believe it’s crucially important our girls realise just how much was done for them by previous generations… the debt of thanks we owe to not just our own countrymen but also the other nations who supported them, is brilliantly illustrated by this centre.

The 14,000 Canadian men, all volunteers; braved some of the most appalling conditions to liberate the beaches of Normandy.. and the films, exhibits and fantastic interactive activities just made us appreciate this even more. We only wish the recent ‘Dunkirk’ movie could have made this clear… just how ‘multi-national’ the efforts were!

It’s also worth knowing that the tours are in French or English (so visiting times are crucial) and there are also other museums to visit nearby such as Pegasus Bridge near Ouistreham or The Grand Bunker at Sword Beach. We never visited either of these as we felt Juno Beach gave a great account of the D-Day Landings and was really interactive… but I guess the choice is all yours to make…

 

“lest we forget the sacrifices of so many”

To then have the opportunity to walk the Juno Beach with the image of soldiers walking with or behind us (a thought drilled into us by the 12min ‘hard hitting film’ in the centre) just brought home the bravery this mission must have taken…

But perhaps also the human emotions from both sides. Especially as we were able to see inside ‘German Command Centres’ & Machine Gun Observation Points’…

Realising just how tough the whole experience must have been for both sides…. as some 130,000 Allied troops try to dismantle the German ‘Atlantic Wall’… a true test of character and perseverance against towering odds..

 

It’s been an thought provoking few days for everyone as we’ve visited some sites that just remind us how fortunate we are now… ‘Lest we Forget’ has never rung truer than it does now to us… It just reminds us of a great quote by the US president Franklin D Roosevelt about the efforts of the Allied forces.

“They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.” — President Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

 

Juno beach

so where did we park the bus for the night?

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About The Author

Richard

Ever wanted to pack your bags, just jump in a motorhome and go off and explore Europe as a family? Well, that’s exactly what my family has done since September 2015. Visiting 35 European countries, travelling over 54,000 miles and grabbing over 450 family experiences on the way… enjoying Bobsleigh in Norway, Climbing into Mt Etna in Sicily or Kayaking the River Dordogne.

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